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Phil Houseal

Your comment on running modern schools based on agricultural time reminded me of an idea I've always thought would work.

Currently, so much attention and funding is focused on "after-school" programs. Whole industries and government programs have been created to handle children from 3:30 when school is out until 5 or 6 when the parents pick them up.

This 1.5 hr time lapse is a vestige of... of what? The 1880’s when kids left school to get home in time to do the evening chores?

Why, in the age of the internet and space travel, do we stick to a timetable from Grandpa’s farm?

The solution is obvious. Lengthen the school day to coincide with America’s workday.

Problem solved.

No need for custodial after school care. No busing of youngsters to off -campus programs. No latch-key kids.

How would education handle this?

Most educators already lament the fact there is not enough time in the school day to cover the basics. Especially with all the extra-curricular burden placed on the schools. Why not have the academics until 2:30, then release kids to band, tennis, football, track (all sports), debate, study hall, work release, enrichment, clubs, play practice, cheer camp, gymnastics, piano lessons, detention? All that stuff that clutters up evenings could be finished by 5:00. Non-participants could go to their jobs or some form of apprenticeship. Vo-Ag students could work on their projects. 4-H and church clubs could even slide over into that time. One adult sponsor getting off work makes more sense than releasing 3000 kids to the streets at 3:30.

There may even be financial benefits. Take the money used to underwrite after-school programs and infuse it back into schools to beef up enrichment programs, hire art and music teachers, pay tutors and give teachers raises.

It's something to think about. But, like daylight savings time, the 9-month school year, and the non-metric measurement system, the 8-3:30 school day is so ingrained in the average man’s circadian rhythm, this would be a difficult time-space ship to turn around.

Les Vierra

As an old fart (over 40 years in education) I agree with Stephen. It's the mindset of the advisors, most likely. Five (at least) further problems are evident (from observation, not empirical evidence) that deter change in education. 1) On the bell curve, teachers tend to be upper middle class and more prone to service than their lower and upper class peers--not necessarily the intellectually challenged as intimated. 2) Of the teachers who seek terminal degrees and work their way into higher education many tend to be avoiding the dreariness of the average school classroom--and tend to preach what they practiced. The balance of experience and innovation tends to be difficult to achieve for a plethora of reasons. 3) Teachers are rewarded for more of what already know enough of to teach [advanced degrees mean more money] and not usually rewarded for innovation--the same innovative teachers usually get the performance awards (to the extend that most schools tend to drop them after awhile). 4) Seldom do we see school districts provide extensive programs for improving instruction. Teachers are supposed to have those skills when hired and the tenure system tends to be more political than productive. And, 5) Elected school boards control the education process. This democratic process is at once the best in the world and, too often, a terrible opportunity for political agendas. You are right, Bill, when we over 40 get talking it takes awhile to wind down.

Stephen Downes

Their being old is not what makes them wrong. Their uttering false statements of giving bad advice is what makes them wrong.

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